Adobe Photoshop 5.5
by Rick Smith December 22, 1999
(updated December 2002)
The Web gallery is one powerful feature that might get overlooked since it is hidden under the "Automate" item in the File menu, but is a very powerful tool. It lets you take all the graphic files that your version of Photoshop understands and turns them into a titled, navigable set of Web pages. The main page consists of a site name, "photographer name" and date, along with a table consisting thumbnails of all the pictures in the subdirectories you chose with a link to each individual picture page. Each individual picture page shares the same title and text of the main page, along with the picture filename and navigation controls to navigate from picture to picture in alphabetic order. Now you can turn the frustrating task of "Which picture should I use?" into a more pleasant one. It is also a great collaborative tool, since it allows others on the team better access to all the pictures.
Unfortunately, I found a few problems with this feature.
The first problem occurs if you have files, with the same name, in different formats in the same directory. If you create a gallery in this situation, you will not be able to navigate between pictures at the individual page level. (You will become "stuck" as soon as you encounter one of the "duplicate" pictures. To eliminate this problem, adding the ability to choose the format (and file extension) to be used to create the gallery would make this problem disappear.
All the filenames of the images that are added to the web gallery must be unique. If the same filename is in two different subdirectories, only one of the images will appear. This presents a problem with downloaded digital camera images if your digicam resets its numbering on each media.
If Photoshop encounters a "bad" input file while processing it into a gallery, be sure not to cancel the creation of a new file. If you cancel, the processing of the gallery stops immediately and you are left with incomplete directories of thumbnails and individual pages, without any main gallery page. If you make the correct choice, Photoshop tells you that it "couldn't open some files" at the end. It leaves it up to you to determine which files were the culprits, so you can delete or rename them and start over. A choice to skip problem files and list of these files should have been provided.
Sometimes GIF images within subdirectories are completely missed by the process and are not inserted into the gallery.
Using the gallery pages on the "real" Internet can be problematic. Although large 200+ picture galleries are fine locally or even on a corporate LAN, these galleries can cause browsers to time out since the page is almost too big to download. I tried a 1,300 picture gallery and just viewing the main index page locally caused the system resources of Windows 98 to drop to a critical six percent, from the eighty-four percent I had started with. (No other applications were running on the 400 MHz 128 megabyte, Pentium II Winbook I was testing it with.) I would like to have the option to be able to break a large gallery automatically into multiple "sub-galleries", so each page wouldn't be so large to download. Each "sub-gallery" could then be automatically "tied together" to the main index page through links. If the number of images on each of these "sub-gallery" pages were limited, the download problem and the low resource problem would be eliminated. This would also eliminate the problem of identical filenames in different subdirectories as well.
Also, if your filenames are too long (longer than about seventeen characters), the Web Gallery software will display the first portion and add "..." after of the filename.
I have also encountered certain GIF files that the gallery forgets to render and the result is a "missing image" icon on the main page.
In spite of these shortcomings, I would have to say that if you have good, well named images, the Web Gallery is a wonderful, time saving tool.
© 1999 Rick Smith All rights reserved.